I installed only the base debian package and during installation I did not select any of GUI window manager, laptop, or system utilities.

So basically I'm running debian from command line, now I want to set up a GUI just for desktop. For this I tried installing gnome-core by

apt-get install gnome-core

But is shows gnome-core as a 400MB archive, is the core package so big? I don't want any programs just the basic desktop GUI and nothing else. My internet speed is slow and I can't wait for hours together for installing gnome. Is there any other way to do it?

To install only the core package for just desktop and nothing else.

  • I don't have gnome-core and I have all the GUI I need. Look for a window manager, like twm or metacity. Commented Jul 14, 2012 at 13:19

2 Answers 2


Apt nowadays, fairly annoyingly, installs "recommended" packages by default. It presumably wants to pull a few dozens of packages. You may skip this behaviour once with the switch --no-install-recommends, or permanently by putting the following into /etc/apt/apt.conf:

APT::Install-Recommends "false";

FWIW, I'm getting roughly 252 MB of packages on my non-X installation for a no-recommendations gnome-core. You might want to find a different desktop environment to install if that is a problem (or you can get by with a window manager alone -- a choice often overlooked).



Well, if apt-get tells you it nees to download 400MB it's because it needs to download 400MB. Also, gnome-core may not provide you with a desktop you want to work with ... because it's only the core packages. Depending on what you want your desktop for you can try other desktops/window managers like xfce, fluxbox, enlightenment or even fvwm. But everything that has perl and python (and mono and ...) bindings (gnome, kde and likely xfce) is going to require a few more packages which will add up to a lot of MB to download.

You can always go to an internet café with e.g. an USB stick and fetch the packages or even a repository there. You could also bring an empty DVD and download the 4.4GB debian iso image which probably contains everything you need. You can also buy CDs/DVDs online ...

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